On Giving v Getting

Had some interesting experiences in recent times associated with a range of people which have caused me to think about different approaches to life and what you receive as a consequence of the approach you take.

There are people who get great satisfaction from giving – be they people who work in charities, social support, education, healthcare and the like.  There are people who give in other ways too – I know we help out a number of our customers who are going through hard times in many ways – we’ll do their work “pro-bono”, we’ll help them deal with their banks and customers and we’ll also work with the owners, managers and staff to develop strategies to assist them get through the rough times they find themselves in.  I am aware of a number of our colleagues in the legal profession who do this.

The giving of time, service and care is a great gift that I know I gain a great deal of satisfaction from.

There are also those who take.  These people have an approach whereby they are always seeking to get things for nothing or at big discounts.  They’re always seeking out opportunities to “get a bit ahead” by getting something for nothing.  I’ve seen examples of this type of behaviour often over my life (both persoanlly and professionally). 

Having observed this over many years, there seems to be some rough sort of pattern in the behaviours that are exhibited.  These people are always ready to be at the front of the queue, they’re notionally supportive when people do well, but they position themselves to take advantage of what has been achieved.  I know that I’ve helped people like this numerous times over the past and it has always come back and “bitten me on the bum”.  They rationalise their behaviour on the basis that they’re entitled to geet this help, support and the like because they are who they are.

That’s all fine and I am not preaching on how people should run their lives – far from it – each to their own.  Having been bitten numerous times, I am not going to change the way I do things or the approach I take.  I will however be far more circumspect in the future as to my behaviour in dealing with people like this.  It is sad, but in this environment where a lot of people have an unjustified sense of “entitlement”, I think we all need to be prepared to consider what the motivators of people are.  If they’re the “needy and greedy” – let them stuff someone else around – there are too many people out there who WILL appreciate what you do for them.

I will always give rather than get.  I’ll just be a lot more careful whom I do it for from here on in.


Following from posting this, I received an email from Russell Wylie of Becoming Better ( who wrote:

I just read your latest blog posting, Matt. Well written!

The Moody Blues had an introduction to a song on one of their albums
that went something like this “… Face miles and miles of trials with
smiles, for it riles them to believe, that you perceive the web they

Generosity and contribution are incredible strengths to be able to
operate from.

You’ve got those things and may they continue to reward you … as I’m
sure they will.

The mean-spiritedness of others is its own karma.

People who operate from that point of view never really get to
understand or appreciate the truth and beauty in things.

And they are always, in some way or another, operating from a state of
tension, pain and disturbance. What an incredibly miserable way to have
to live a life?

The trick is to never let those “takers” have a diminishing, or
restrictive effect upon your life, or your style of going about doing
the things that you do. In a sense they begin to “win” when you react
that way. The chipping away at belief and faith will have begun – in a
very subtle manner.

Rather than becoming more circumspect in your approach to generosity and
goodwill, I would actually recommend you become more generous and even
more of a contributor.


Because I believe will serve you far far more richly than the initial
alternative, annoy the crap out of the takers (… and it will help to
make sense of the aforementioned Moody Blues line). Your style is about
expression and creating things, not repression and restriction.

Life is far too serious to be taken seriously … And the world is
definitely a better place with a “constantly adding-value Matthew Tol” –
no doubt in mind whatsoever!

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